Build a Solid Foundation With Key Performance Indicators, Part 1: Lead-Generation Sites

Just as a blueprint establishes the form and proportions of a house, a Web site’s key performance indicators (KPIs), or success metrics, help establish a common foundation for all team members involved in building, analyzing, and improving your site.

Your Web site’s success depends on this foundation’s quality. That’s why we recommend investing time and money up front to define the KPIs that tie to your overall business and site goals. The KPIs you select help determine the type of analytics data you need to collect and how you can use this valuable data to improve site performance.

Establish KPIs

No matter what type of site you have, you can apply this four-step methodology to maximize the value of the analytics data you gather:

  1. Define key site goals and metrics.
  2. Configure the tracking tool.
  3. Analyze the data.
  4. Optimize the site based on the findings.

This ongoing process is most effective when periodically repeated to continually fine-tune a site. The overall process fails if key site goals and KPIs aren’t established early on and a method to measure the metrics tied to these KPIs isn’t related to information your team can act on to improve your site.

How Do You Use Your Site?

There are different sets of important metrics, or KPIs, for different business types. These metrics are just a starting point for those who feel they haven’t been looking at meaningful data in the past.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll focus on each of the four commercial site types:

  • Lead-generation site
  • Commerce
  • Customer service/care
  • Content

Many Web sites typically don’t fall into just one category. Most include two or three different elements. When you define key site goals, divide the site into these different groups so the goals can more easily be defined. This holds especially true when you’re analyzing a large site.

Lead-Generation Sites

Lead generation is often considered the most common of the four site types. A good example of a lead-generation site is a high-end real estate site. It offers a product customers typically don’t buy directly online. The client needs to entice a visitor to contact the company and arrange for a face-to-face visit to close the sale.

It’s important for this company to track online leads and understand how those leads ultimately convert to offline sales. The average lead value can be defined based on the average close rate and the value of the properties purchased.

Understanding the value of these leads drives the need to better understand site behavior and identify ways to optimize the conversion.

Lead-Generation KPIs

The key to a lead-generation site or site section is to capture information about a visitor to use in future communications. Different types of lead generation include:

  • Request more information forms or email
  • Apply online
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Register to download product or information
  • Get referral to partner site

For each of the following lead-generation KPIs, there are a number of important metrics to track to understand the behaviors that improve each metric. Some of the most common KPIs include:

  • Overall conversion. This is a basic calculation: leads divided by site visits. This is a primary metric to watch as changes are made to the site.
  • Conversion by campaigns. How do visitors from different campaigns or visitor segments convert to leads? Understanding the differences can allow for tuning messages based on different audience segments.
  • Drivers to registration process. Look at what content leads visitors to the registration process and ultimately drives them to register and become customers.
  • Step-by-step conversion analysis via the registration process. For longer registration processes, it’s important to understand where visitors are dropping out of the process, then focus on correcting steps that drive the most defectors.
  • Analysis of registration process dropouts. When people drop out of the registration process, understanding where they went next is often helpful. Understanding what other information people are looking for can be helpful in optimizing the registration process.
  • Conversion of leads to actual customers. Besides just knowing what types of lead-generation options drive the most visitors to register on your site, it’s also important to understand if and how those visitors ultimately convert into customers.

Lead-generation sites are often undervalued. In many cases, they drive significantly more revenue than full commerce sites. Recognizing this is the first step toward maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of your online investment with the help of Web analytics.

Next: Looking at the KPIs for commerce sites.

Join us at ClickZ’s upcoming AdForum and at Search Engine Strategies.

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